Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Alchemyst

I first read about the Nicholas Flamel YA series of books, by Michael Scott, on Deslily's blog - Here, There and Everywhere. She's been recommending them for years and for years I've been studiously ignoring her as I have enough series on the go. But book series are like salted peanuts - you can never have too many and, in one of her recent posts I took one look at the beauty of the covers and caved in and bought the first two.

The first one is The Alchemyst.



While their parents are away on a summer archeological dig, fifteen year old twins, Josh and Sophie, stay with their aunt in San Francisco. They have summer jobs in the same street, across the road from each other, Sophie in a coffee shop, Josh in a bookshop. The bookshop's owner is Nick Fleming a rather enigmatic figure that Josh has grown to like and admire.

One day the bookshop is attacked by one, Dr. John Dee, and three golems, intent on capturing an ancient book that Nick owns, the Book of Abraham the Mage. Using magic,they get hold of all but two pages, Nick's wife is kidnapped, and Nick and the twins are forced to flee. They collect a 'young woman' along the way, Scatty, and end up in a Shadowrealm, guarded by some very strange creatures, which takes the form of an immense tree. The realm is ruled over by an Elder, thousands of years old: Hekate.

It seems that Nick Fleming is actually seven hundred year old, Nicholas Flamel and, from what the adults are saying, there are things the twins might not know about themselves. They are bewildered and frightened and try to escape, but escape from this nightmare is no longer possible. Their lives will, literally, never be the same again.

I'm pretty pleased that I picked this series up at last. I really enjoyed this pacey romp around the Californian countryside with Nicholas Flamel and his cohorts. It's full of excitement and imagination with many nods to ancient myth and ordinary history... or should I say *extra*ordinary history! I think there's room for a little more fleshing out of characters, I didn't feel I got to know the twins all that well for instance, but I'm sure that will come in the next books. Deslily tells me they get better and better and that wouldn't surprise me at all. I have the next one, The Magician, on my tbr pile and once I've knocked a few books off the library pile I'll get to it. Thanks to Deslily for the rec.

8 comments:

kiirstin said...

I'd really like to read this. I tried listening to the audiobook, and I could tell almost immediately that I would like it written, but the audiobook did nothing for me. Sadly, I can't read and drive at the same time, so it will be a little longer until I get to it...

DesLily said...

of course I am happy you like the book so much!! Maybe I should ask Michael Scott for commission huh? hahahha.. honestly the books do get better with each one, yet book one captures you..so they are all good reads! It's next May until the next new one comes out!.. This is one set of books I am NOT giving to my grandson LOL.. he can "borrow them" but if he mentions an interest in them I'd buy him his own set of the books.

Kailana said...

I plan to read this series one day! Pat hasn't steered me wrong so far, but like you, I really do have too many series on the go!

Cath said...

kiirstin: I don't listen to audiobooks but assume that a lot probably depends on who is reading. Perhaps the reader didn't inspire you. You might like the actual book much better.

Pat: yeah, I'm not letting my family go off with these books either. My eldest daughter will want to borrow book 2 though as the library doesn't have it.

Kailana: at some stage I'm really going to need to finish some these series I've started! I even start them by accident as the book I've just started turns out to be the first of a trilogy. Unbelievable.

Book pusher said...

These books are hugely popular, so I was really interested in your review, I haven't had a chance to read them yet, it sounds like I should make time. The kids rave about this series.

Cath said...

Book Pusher: I didn't realise how popular these books are! But it doesn't surprise me as the first one gallops along at quite a pace and would appeal to boys as well as girls I'm sure. I'm looking forward to reading book 2.

Booklogged said...

Uh oh! Another series?! That cover is tantalizing, tho, isn't it? I wonder if the U.S. cover is as nice. I find they are usually not as eye-catching as England's covers.

Cath said...

Booklogged: those covers are seriously beautiful aren't they? And, for once, the US and UK covers are almost exactly the same. The first one has slightly different colouring but my book 2 is exactly the same as Deslily's.